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NEWS | Dec. 9, 2021

Culture Encompasses All: How Culture Plays a Part in All Pillars for NNSY’s Strategic Framework

By Kristi Britt, Public Affairs Specialist Norfolk Naval Shipyard

In early 2021, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) unveiled its Strategic Framework to the workforce, a tool that would be used to communicate the shipyard’s path forward to achieving its vision of delivering ships on time, every time, everywhere to protect America. Each section was established to show how initiatives executed across the command tie together – to deliver our Navy’s warships back to the fleet. Among these sections stood four pillars dedicated to critical focus areas of the shipyard to improve, standing atop the foundation block that encompasses all of what NNSY is about: culture.

As stated in the Strategic Framework, culture is the foundation of the shipyard: “we are bound by mission, strengthened by diversity, and reinforced by culture. Our team’s diverse backgrounds, perspectives, viewpoints, and skills are our greatest strength. Our culture will reinforce that strength by creating a more aware, inclusive, and empowered workforce. Culture is the foundation upon which the pillars stand, the vision is realized, and warships are successfully delivered. We commit to establishing and maintaining an environment where people feel included and valued to do their best.”

Originally slated to be a pillar, culture was instated as the foundation as it is encompassed in everything being done at the shipyard. It was the intention that when NNSY’s Culture Change Team (CCT) was established in fall 2018, it was built to help change the behaviors of the workforce, eliminate any discrimination, and to encourage the values of Care, Ownership, Respect, and Excellence (C.O.R.E.) through training, peer-to-peer accountability, education, and focus group feedback. As part of the team’s ongoing mission, the CCT has joined forces with the four pillar teams across the shipyard: Infrastructure, Dependable Mission Delivery, People Development, and Process Improvement and Innovation. This partnership was established to assist in the efforts dedicated to addressing those critical focus areas while ensuring that culture plays a key part in all America’s Shipyard aims to achieve.

“The CCT embedding on the pillars was to help ensure the teams consider the effects each initiative may have on culture, and if possible, modify as necessary,” said CCT Co-Lead Jason Braun. “This embedding also allows any findings from the CCT initiatives to be directly inserted into the pillar teams for consideration of action. The strategic collaboration also ensures that we do not duplicate efforts.”

CCT Co-Lead Carlynn Lucas added, “We’re there to provide assistance in recognizing the ways different pieces of a larger system affect one another. This helps the organization identify barriers to change, strengthen and build communications, and create an environment that is conducive to learning. This will ultimately execute the change in culture.”

CCT representatives sit in on all discussions and meetings related to the pillar teams, providing input and feedback as efforts are made to improve the shipyard for the better.

The Infrastructure Pillar is focused on improving the facilities, equipment, information technology, phones, and wireless connectivity within the shipyard, onboard vessels, as well as at off-yard sites. “Most initiatives have a direct effect on culture due to direct effect on a person’s environment when it comes to the Infrastructure Pillar Team (IPT),” said Braun. “They have done an outstanding job establishing initiatives to work on, looking for the best end result. The main consideration from the CCT typically is mitigating the negative effect the transition can have on people. Though it is impossible to keep everyone happy during the transitions, the IPT is trying to minimize the burden to everyone. Due to the CCT’s involvement, it has allowed us to help communicate the current items and progress of the Infrastructure Pillar to the CCT initiatives.”

The Dependable Mission Delivery Pillar is focused on measurably increasing the productive capacity to execute Intermediate and Depot (I&D) Level core mission work within authorized staffing levels.  Productive capacity is defined as the number of people executing wrench-turning work within prescribed budgets on any given day. “The CCT involvement on the Dependable Mission Delivery Pillar Team (MPT) provides perspectives and assistance in shaping the actions, decisions, and initiatives sourced within the MPT, hoping to influence tasks with our C.O.R.E. values always in consideration,” said CCT Lead Antonne Smalls. “We broaden the scope of assessment during storming sessions. We also attempt to mitigate the negative aspects of how we team, the impact to the team and NNSY culture. We also give input on the reasons behind systemic issues that hinder the success of MPT purpose and plans, while ultimately undergirding leadership’s responsibility to create and manage NNSY culture.”

The People Development Pillar is focused on developing the whole person through Brilliance on the Basics, improving technical skills, leadership skills, character development and selecting the best candidate to become a subject matter expert in their field. “The CCT believes there is a direct correlation between how a person is treated, their performance, and the impact on ship delivery,” said Lucas. “With the People Development Pillar Team (PDPT) we identify, support, and complete initiatives to recruit, hire, and promote the best talent, influence the work environment, and invest in effective, achievable learning and development that focuses on professional, personal, and technical skills to unleash the full potential of the workforce in support of our command mission and vision.”

The Process Improvement and Innovation (PI&I) Pillar is focused on aligning and focusing efforts to improve delivery of our mission, while accelerating, advocating for and fostering an environment and culture of Continuous Process Improvement and Innovation (CPI&I) to deliver ships. CCT Member Toya Wyche said, “We want to instill in our leadership and across the workforce that process improvement and innovation is something we should all aim to achieve and that we want to implement the systems and organizational framework in order to accelerate these endeavors to meet the shipyard’s vision.”